[New Hooping.org Columnist Shannon Loucks joins our team this week and gets the Christian hoop scoop on spinning up prayer.]
With Christmas just around the corner, I’ve found myself thinking a little more about faith lately. After all, so many believe Jesus is the reason for the season. But what does faith mean exactly and how does hooping connect with a Christian? I decided to find out for myself and set off to to interview a few hoopers about the relationship between their hooping practice and their faith.
Everyone that I contacted agreed that the hoop has truly been a way to a deepen their connection with God. “For me it’s a matter of focusing on both the song and my Lord as I’m hooping,” Traci Bonney explained. Using the member name “Circular Praise” on YouTube to share her hoop journey, Traci first began expressing her worship through dance. Later on when she was looking for other motivations to improve her health, she found her way into the hoop. It seemed a natural transition then to bring together dance, prayer and hooping to challenge her heart, soul, mind and muscles in one activity. She explained, “The Bible talks about praise offerings and praising God in the dance, so my dancing, both in and out of the hoop, is an offering from my heart to His.”
Catina Jane hosts an event called “Hoop Church” in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. The mission of the event is “to spread hope, love and fun via our weekly hula hoop jam, to get our praise on and shine the love!” Having found a freedom within the hoop that she has found in few other places, she explained, “I think the expressiveness I can show toward God in a hoop dance is a very deep form of prayer for me. I have found that to lead me to some “Aha” moments with God.” I was curious to know if she entered the hoop with a specific question or prayer in mind, or if the message came through within the flow. She responded, “I like to have fun in the hoop which I think is a prayer all by itself, to bring that joy before The Lord. Sometimes though I enter the hoop very spiritual heavy, but leave much lighter after talking to God. Just have fun and talk to God. You’re just talking to your father. It doesn’t have to be complex, just show up and be open to let God move and he will.“
Sara Otis Janssen of The Happy Hoop finds joy in the overall community she has connected with through hooping. “They may not all share the exact spiritual path that I am on, but they are all passionate, incredible artists, dancers, mothers, seekers.” Sara finds hooping to be both a physical and spiritual outlet that can be just what is needed at the end of a long hard day, releasing all that has hindered her. When asked how she had discovered hooping as a faith tool she explained, “I don’t know if there is a specific time that I ‘discovered’ it. I tend to look at everything in my life as a spiritual endeavor. But there was a moment of realization, where I thought, “Wow, this is going to change me.”
Monica Hand Eastburn is a hooping single mother, full-time student and massage therapist. When it comes to hooping and faith she said, “I discover ideas, am intrigued by them. I try them out, get frustrated, put them down, miss them, pick them back up, wrestle with them, fall in love with parts of them, get excited about them, want to share them, feel frustrated, feel happy, and eventually the value of the fight is made evident to me in the transforming of my heart, mind, and action. When I’m thinking about the way my faith has unfolded, it sounds very similar to what happens to me in the hoop. It’s actually hard for me to see my faith as something separate. It’s all mixed in.” When I asked her about hooping and prayer she explained, “I have times when I am alone in my driveway, which is where I hoop most, at night, and I feel so easy and free and I know I am loved. I can be silent and receive, or I can mumble my hurts and my worries and praises while the hoop is spinning. Worship and prayer in movement. God desires relationship and I feel I am spending time in relationship with Him out there in the dark, getting free of the day.”
Asking all four of these prayerful hoopers what they would offer to those new to the idea of hopping to deepen their connection to God, they had some great offerings to share. Traci said, “Find a hoop you trust, clothes that bring you into a worshipful state of mind, and music that takes you into God’s presence and move into a flow where you know you and God are talking, where you’re communing. If you need to begin with a prayer before you start dancing, that’s an excellent place to move forward from. Sometimes a starting prayer is what you need to break through whatever wall has gotten between you and God. Pray, cry, scream, lie on the floor and rest in God’s presence, if need be. Catina Jane told me, “Just go into the hoop like you’d come to God in prayer. Be loose and easy. Put on music that speaks to your heart and makes you feel connected to the Father and just pray and hoop and he will be right there in the hoop with you. I promise.”
Sara responded, “Just get out there. Pick up your hoop, even when you don’t feel like it. Those are the moments that will change you the most.” And Monica revealed, “I think having something to repeat, or meditate on is a good way to start. I have a verse that’s very special for me – ‘He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I love that one. But sometimes it’s helpful to just let your movements unfold and go with it. Your soul knows what it needs to express, allow your body to be free enough to let it out.”
Hooping.org Columnist Shannon Loucks discovered the magic of the hoop in 2010 and has never looked back. She is also one of the main contributors to the pursuits of passion and play in the lives of her two unschooled boys and you can find her on Facebook. She lives in Santa Clara, California, USA.